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After my post Ranking the Top 12 Chase Travel Credit Card Offers last week, a lot of readers had questions about some of the lesser-discussed perks of my top two cards, the Ink Bold and the Ink Plus, so I wanted to address their specific benefits – apart from the super lucrative 5x bonus spending category of office supply stores – here in one place to help readers decide which card is the right one for them.
Before I get started, I thought I’d just take a second to recap the current offers on both cards.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first 3 months from account opening.
- No interest charges because it’s a pay in full charge card.
- Earn 5X points per dollar in select business categories.
- 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Direct access to a live service advisor anytime.
- $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year, then $95.
While both are business credit cards, the Ink Bold is a charge card, which means there is no limit but, but the balance must be paid off monhtly. The Ink Plus is a credit card with the ability to pay off the balance over time, but with a set spending limit. Ink Plus also gives you access to Chase’s Blueprint service which helps you design a plan to pay off purchases in flexible ways and track your spending.
Charge cards like the Ink Bold often give bigger spending power, but require full payment every month or else you get hit with higher fees and penalties than with a credit card. Credit cards generally have pre-set limits, but if you need to carry a balance, the cost is less (though still not a bargain).
Both sign-up bonuses are the same at 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points, and you can get the sign-up bonus on both cards for a potential 100,000-point payday. Both have $95 annual fees that are waived in the first year.
About that 5 points per $1 at office stores…
As I said, this post is about the lesser-discussed benefits of these cards, but I did just want to include a quick note on the lucrative 5x category spending bonus at office supply stores. Both the Ink Bold and the Ink Plus earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores, as well as 5 points per dollar for cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services excluding equipment purchases. The bonus is earned on expenditures up to a total of $50,000 per card year (250,000 Ultimate Rewards points). Note that superstores, warehouse clubs and discount stores are excluded as office suppliers, so don’t expect to get any bonus at Costco and the like.
The other spending bonus: 2x points
The 5x office supply bonus is just part of the story, though. Both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus also earn 2 points per $1 at gas stations and for hotel expenses – but only when purchased directly with the hotel. Booking on Orbitz or other outside websites (or travel agents) won’t get you the points. As for gas, Chase only requires that a merchant has a code for those categories – which is less restrictive than Amex’s requirement for the Premier Rewards card’s 2x gas station bonus which requires the gas to be purchased at a standalone gas station – so as long as the merchant at which you purchase the gas is coded as a gas station, you should receive 2x points with the Chase cards.
When you log into the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal using one of these two Ink cards, you will also earn 2 points per $1 you spend on airfare and hotels.
Beyond that, both cardsearn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases, with no limits on the number of points you can earn, and the points don’t expire.
Both accrue points in Ultimate Rewards, and because these are premium Chase products, the Ultimate Rewards points you earn with them can be transferred to the programs travel partners: United, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club and Amtrak.
Lounging around…well, twice a year
Both cards also give cardholders complimentary Lounge Club membership. It’s sort of like Priority Pass membership where you pay to join and then each time you visit a lounge, you pay a day pass fee. Lounge Club has 350 VIP airport lounges worldwide and membership is priced at $150 per person per year. Ink Bold and Ink Plus cardholders get two free lounge passes per year and then after that, they will have to pay the usual $27 per person per visit fee.
Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of these lounges in the US – most of them are overseas, and you’ll need to carry your Lounge Club card with you; flashing the credit card isn’t enough to get you in the lounge.
You can’t normally sign-up for The Lounge Club, so you need an invite landing page, which is www.loungeclub.com/inkcard. To get the promo code, call the number on the back of your Ink Bold card.
World MasterCard benefits – UPDATE: As of June 2013, Ink cards are now Visa Business Cards and are no longer World MasterCards so the below benefits do not apply.
Both cards are also World MasterCards, which means they carry a standard slate of benefits provided by MasterCard.
One of these is World Experiences and Offers at Fairmont, Mandarin Oriental and Relais & Chateaux properties when you use the card to pay for your stay – kind of like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts works, or Visa Signature Hotels. At Fairmont hotels, you receive a room upgrade to best available and late checkout (2pm) for free – though blackout dates do apply. At Mandarin Oriental properties, you receive complimentary breakfast, priority check-in and VIP status, which may include some kind of in-room amenity. At Relais & Châteaux hotels worldwide, you’ll receive the fourth night free or a bottle of champagne after a three-night stay.
Priceless New York is a perks program that with exclusive deals and offers in New York City that they email to customers, like access to exclusive concerts, or shopping perks like free delivery from FAO Schwartz and a $50 restaurant gift card for the Shops at Columbus Circle.
World MasterCard holders also have access to 15% discounted prices on MasterCard Airport Concierge service. They can meet you at the plane door and get you fast-tracked through immigration, assist with baggage on departure, or send a chauffeured luxury vehicle upon arrival – these services and more are available.
Like many other premium credit cards, World MasterCards also offers warranty extension, doubling any warranty beyond the manufacturer’s up to a total of 12 months. You also get purchase protection, which includes coverage of lost or damaged items within 90 days of purchase up to $1,000 per purchase and $25,000 annually per card annually. You also get price protection, which means that if you buy something with your World Mastercard and the same item is available for a lower price within 60 days, you get the difference between the new price and the price you paid, up to $250. You can file four claims per year.
Master Roadassist provides 24-hour emergency roadside assistance through AAA when you’re 100 miles or more from home. Though you have to pay, it’s better than calling a tow company because fees are pre-negotiated to be fair.
Master Rental Insurance pays for physical damage and theft to most rental vehicles with an MSRP of $50,000 or less when the World MasterCard for Business card is used to initiate and pay for the entire rental transaction.
Mastertrip protection includes travel assistance, replacement of lost tickets, documents and luggage. It works when you’re traveling 50 miles or more from home, and can transfer up to $5,000 to cover travel emergencies. The service also helps to locate luggage (though it is not baggage insurance). They also assist in getting people and information in to emergency situations. In addition, they can help with referrals for doctors or lawyers to aid in travel emergencies.
World MasterCards also reimburse travelers up to $300 for amenities if your bags are delayed more than 4 hours – as long as you paid for the cost of your trip (minus miles and such) with the card. That $300 is payable as $100 chunks per day for three days after your baggage is missing or delayed.
Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance provides automatic coverage up to $1 million for accidents while traveling. World MasterCard for Business cardholders and eligible dependents are insured while traveling as passengers on any licensed common carrier—including air, rail, marine, and bus carriers—if their tickets have been purchased with the World MasterCard for Business card.
To see the full list of World MasterCard benefits check out the benefits page here.
So as you can see, apart from being extremely lucrative points-earning workhorse cards that I carry in my wallet, having either or both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus also means you get the added bonus of all these other perks and protections – and in addition to that much-ballyhooed 5x category spending bonus at office stores and communications utilities, there are a lot of other opportunities to maximize these cards and the value they give you.